Chapter 4: Who We Are and Who We Were
Downstairs, the door was open and a gale was blowing through it. Link shivered as a spat of snow hit him in the face. “What? What is this?” he asked. He’d never seen snow beyond a few flurries on cold winter nights and the occasional dusting on the distant mountains.
“It’s Cecelia,” Zelda answered, “My eldest sister.”
“She uses a cryo rod? A little overdramatic, isn’t she?”
“She’s not using a cryo rod…” Zelda said.
Russell and Malon stood beyond the open door, out on the porch. Russ was shouting.
“I don’t believe you,” Russ yelled through the wind. “And I don’t care if you’re bloody Crown Princess of Hyrule; we never had much care for the Crown here, anyway. Get off my property before I get my gun!”
“Father!” Malon exclaimed.
Link and Zelda stepped out onto the porch and the wind died down. Standing before them, backlit by the sunset, was a tall woman with long, platinum blond hair, dressed a regal ice blue gown with ornaments of gold. She was flanked by men in armor, their visors covering their faces. “Why, if it isn’t the little raven,” she said with a sneer as she beheld Zelda. “I’ve missed you, sister. It is time to come home now.”
“Yeah, I know what will happen,” Zelda shot back. She took two steps backward, right into Link. “I’ll come on back to the palace and then I’ll have a nice, convenient ‘accident.’ You’ll cry for the cameras and for the newspaper reporters, and there will be no one left to stop you as you and that … pig… turn this world into a complete wasteland! In other words, I’m not going to come quietly!”
“My, my,” Cecelia said, studying the exquisitely manicured fingernails of her right hand for a moment, “You’ve grown a backbone. It must be tough to be the barrier maiden… In a little while, when I take what is mine, there will be no need for such faith. I see you’ve made a little boyfriend. Perhaps you aren’t a ‘maiden’ anymore?”
At this, Link grit his teeth and stepped forth.
“Ready to defend her honor, are you?” Cecelia laughed. “Good lad. You really do have that classic heroic look…”
“Link, stand down!” Russell ordered.
“Link, is it?” Cecelia said with a broadening smile. She then turned to Russ and eyed the small crowd that had gathered outside the Ordonas’ ranch house porch. “I’ll tell you what,” she said, “My men will spare your crops and livestock and we will vacate this little dirt-farm if he comes with us. You may even keep the little princess. Let’s just say I’ve a newfound interest in him.”
Link looked about nervously. He sighed heavily and stepped forward, shrugging off Zelda’s grip. “I’ll come with you,” he said, looking to Cecelia “I don’t know what you want with me, but… just leave everyone else alone, okay?”
Cecelia placed a hand on his shoulder. “Good lad,” she said.
“Link, don’t!” Zelda pleaded.
“What will happen to him?” Russell demanded.
Zelda sidled up to him and spoke into his ear. “We can’t let him go with her,” she said. “She means to kill him.”
Without warning, Cecelia grabbed Link and held him close to her body. He gulped and tried to writhe out of her grip, but felt a strange, cold feeling running through his veins. He could not move. He felt his head being pulled back.
“She is right, you know,” Cecelia said as a shimmering object suddenly produced itself from her glove. The elder princess pressed the ice-dagger into Link’s skin and whispered into his left ear. “Bravery has always been pretty stupid. This will be quick.”
Russell screamed a war-cry. He grabbed a pitchfork that was leaning against the side of the house and charged Cecelia. Her soldiers reacted swiftly. As Russell jabbed his weapon into them, their armor clattered to the ground in a loud cacophony. Black smoke rose from it, magic without substance.
“Empty armor! Magic warriors!” Zelda gasped. The only thing this meant was that her sister was even more powerful a mage than she’d known. “Mr. Russell! Wait!”
Link suddenly felt his limbs able to move. He ducked and just as he did so, he saw a strange pale blue light shoot from his captor’s hand to hit his uncle in the chest. Russell immediately stopped. Ice, clear, pure and hard formed all around him, encasing the entirety of his body. He stared at his nephew with wide, unseeing eyes, his mouth agape.
“Uncle Russ!” Link cried, running to him. He stopped short and fell to the ground, a block of that same kind of clear, hard ice suddenly encasing his left leg. Pain shot through his leg, and then it felt numb. He crawled upon the ground, shivering with a cold he’d never before felt in his life, trying to reach his uncle. Everything was chaos. His neighbors and friends were screaming. Malon was pounding on the ice that Russell was trapped in.
A wind picked up. Zelda stood, holding her right hand up in a fist. Light shone from it. The triangle pattern on the back of her hand glowed. She spoke with a voice that was strong and clear, echoing with authority. “Light shine through the darkness,” she said. “Creature of evil heart, leave this place!”
A strange light rose up behind her. Link looked up. It resembled a snake, a serpent of immense proportions. Its head rose up above and beyond Zelda. It hissed. Cecelia shrank back, screamed a high-pitched scream, flung something from her hand and disappeared in a flash of smoke. The light-serpent shimmered and vanished. Zelda lowered her hand and her head, breathing heavily. “She’s gone,” she said.
The entire town surrounded Russell. The ice that encased him suddenly shattered. He fell to the ground with a dull thump. The ice encasing Link’s leg likewise shattered away. He found he could not get up. He crawled and floundered until he came to his uncle’s side.
“Daddy?” Malon cried, shaking his shoulders, “Daddy? Wake up! Wake up, please!”
“Arragh!” Link cried as he tried to move. Feeling was coming back to parts of his leg and it hurt terribly. From the knee down he felt numb, like he was lugging around a cold rock. The nerves right at his knee felt like they were on fire. Russell was still. His skin was discolored in a most peculiar way, purple like a bruise, with little ice crystals here and there, like freezer-burn. “Uncle Russ?” Link cried hopelessly. He felt the man’s cold neck for a pulse, his chest for a heartbeat and found everything still. He heard Colin and his mother both begin crying. Billy Jack sniffed. Lady Gwen muttered a prayer.
Zelda knelt down beside Link. “He was frozen solid,” she said. “All the cells in his body burst. I’m sorry… I’m so sorry.”
A roar of grief ripped itself from Link’s lungs. He slumped over Russell, sobbing. He did not notice when Zelda removed his left boot and rolled his jeans leg up. She ran her hands along his leg, trying to massage life back into it. He looked up, curious as to what she was doing. His leg was discolored in much the same way as his uncle’s skin was.
Zelda sighed deeply. “A crippled Hero. This isn’t good.”
Suddenly, the mark on her right hand glowed. Light surrounded both her hand and the whole lower portion of Link’s leg. She gasped, as though she was unsure of what was going on. When the glow subsided, Link was able to wiggle his toes. His flesh was once again warm and alive, though from the knee down, it was a paler shade than the rest of his skin. He stared for a moment before he grabbed Zelda’s hand violently.
“Link! What?” she exclaimed. He pressed her hand to his uncle’s chest.
“Heal him!” he demanded. “You helped me, now bring him back to life!”
The Triforce crest on Zelda’s hand was dark once again. “I can’t!” she cried. “It’s not working!”
“Come on!” Link pleaded, “Will it to work or something! Uncle Russ…”
“Link, let go of my wrist. You’re hurting me!”
Link immediately let go. “I’m sorry,” He said, hanging his head, letting his tears flow, “I’m sorry…”
Zelda kept her hand on Russell Ordona’s chest. She closed her eyes, trying to communicate with Wisdom, pleading with Nayru to bring the man’s spirit back to his body. A dull ache in her heart told her that her request was declined.
“I can’t,” she said sadly.
“He has passed on,” Lady Gwen said, stepping forward. “None can bring him back. He died trying to protect his family – his spirit will be at peace.” The old woman pointed to Zelda and then to Link. “You two need to leave this place. Destiny nips at your heels. Do not worry. We will take care of him.”
“Gwen?” Link asked as the old woman hobbled over to him and gently grasped his ear between her thumb and her bony forefinger.
“I knew the day would come when you would leave us,” she said slowly. “Your uncle tried to shield you from your destiny, but it has caught up to you. Now is the time for you to fulfill your destiny. Dry your eyes, boy. If you play this right, you will save us all.”
Link stood up and wiped the tears from his eyes. He put his left boot back on. He strode into the house as if he were suddenly on a mission. “Link?” Malon asked as he watched him rip the weapons case off the wall and slam it down onto the dinner table. Glass broke and clattered to the floor. “Bullets, Malon,” Link ordered as he grabbed Uncle Russ’ old gun, “the holster, too.”
“He hasn’t used it in years, Link,” Malon said, “and you’ve never used one in your life!”
“I know he kept a stash of ammunition,” Link said calmly, coldly, “Just get it for me.”
“Alright,” Malon said as she headed toward the back of the house. Link looked at his father’s old sword and the scabbard that had been mounted in the case beside it, both now lying haphazardly upon the table, amid broken glass. Link did not know why, but he felt drawn to the sword. It was an archaic weapon with no practical use in the modern world, certainly not to be compared to a .45, but still, it seemed to call to him. He took it up, contemplated the blade with its ancient blessing-seal for a moment, sheathed it and slung it onto his back. Malon returned with brown leather gun holster and two small cardboard boxes filled with rows of bullets.
Link girded the holster over his belt and loaded six bullets into his uncle’s gun before putting it firmly inside it. He picked up the ornately decorated gun that had once belonged to his father. It was the same make. He loaded it, as well, and passed it to Malon. He put one box of ammunition in his back pocket and he laid the other on the table.
He looked at Malon very seriously. “If that bitch ever comes back here and tries to hurt you… you shoot her okay?” Malon nodded her head quickly, fear showing in her eyes. She’d never seen this side to her cousin.
“What do you intend to do, Link?” She asked.
“I’m going to hunt her down,” Link said, “Whatever it takes. I’m not letting your father go un-avenged.”
“Link… you… you don’t have to. Stop acting like this! You’re scaring me! I’ve never seen you like this! Where’s my gentle-hearted Link? I want him back… please?”
“I think he died tonight, Malon,” Link said, sighing. He cupped her cheek.
“No he didn’t,” she replied, “I can still see his eyes.”
“I don’t think it’s safe for anyone if I stay here anymore,” he said. “I have to go with Zelda now. The ranch is yours now, like you always wanted. You’re strong, Malon. I know you can take care of everyone.”
“Be careful, okay, Link?”
After gathering a few more things, he stepped out the door and Zelda followed him. He tried not to look as Fado and Billy Jack wrapped what remained of Uncle Russ up in bed sheets and carried him toward the town graveyard. Lady Gwen followed them, making signs with her hands and uttering prayers. Malon simply stood in the doorway, watching as the princess and the man she’d been calling “Hero” wandered to the stables. Link saddled up Rhiannon and asked Zelda where they were to go.
“Old Kakariko,” she said as they rode the horse at a brisk trot. “Don’t fool yourself. You’re not going to be able to defeat my sister or Ganondorf with the power you have now.”
“I don’t care about President Ganondorf,” Link said, “I just want revenge on that woman. She… just destroyed my life.”
Zelda rubbed his shoulder, a pale attempt to comfort him a little. “It is a twisted web,” she said, “And thank you…”
“For all that you’ve done for me… and all that you haven’t done yet, but will do. We need to go to Old Kakariko. It’s where my Impa lives. She can train you. She knows a little of guns, but her expertise is in the sword. Furthermore, she knows the arts of stealth.”
. Impa is a title – it means ‘bodyguard’ and ‘teacher.’ Cecelia dismissed her recently and exiled her from the court. That was one of many signs that something very shady was going on and that my life was in danger. I’m sure she’ll find you easy to train. She’s left-handed, like you.” Adelaide
“Huh?” Link asked, “You noticed that.”
“Whenever you picked up anything. It’s not a common trait.”
Link sighed, looking at the stars and the moonlit desert ahead. “I suppose we’ll bypass Nabooru. I don’t even know where Old Kakariko is.”
“You’re on the right path,” Zelda replied.
“The military must be very happy…” Link said.
“Huh?” Zelda asked.
“I’ve heard about cryo rods,” he continued, “I also heard that scientists were trying to make improvements to them. I had no idea that they were that powerful, or that they could be concealed so well. I’m guessing she was hiding a pair of them in those silk gloves of hers. I didn’t think the liquid nitrogen chambers would allow for concealment like that-”
“You are a complete idiot, aren’t you?” Zelda spat. “What you saw wasn’t technology! It was magic! Cecelia’s a MAGE, ice-specialty! You saw what happened!”
“The glow from your hand was pretty… otherworldly,” Link admitted. “You spoke with a very strange, echoing voice and you drove her off. You healed my leg. How did you do all that?”
“I am not sure,” Zelda said. “It all just… happened, but what you witnessed was magic. Don’t deny it.”
“There was this huge snake made of golden light…It looked like something out of the old ‘Legend of the Twilight Princess’ I’ve read.”
“Lanayru,” Zelda said. “Lanayru… one of Hyrule’s four great guardian spirits. I thought her spring had dried up. All that means is that we’ve got more allies than I thought.”
“Forgive me, princess,” Link said, “I don’t know what you royals study, but all this magic stuff is new to me… and strange.”
“It is more familiar to you than you know,” Zelda replied. “Don’t worry too much. Belief in the old ways has dried up just as the land has. There are not many people who have much faith anymore, and it’s hard to blame them. It may take a little time, but you’ll find your faith. I know already that I believe in you.”
Link shifted uncomfortably in the saddle.
“My leg hurts.”
As evening deepened into , Rhiannon’s hooves thumped across the desert hardpan, harsh and swift, in time with Link’s racing heart. Zelda held onto him tight from behind. Everything was different now. Only Zelda’s fingers clutching into his chest, wadding up his shirt told him that he was not dreaming.
“Something’s following us,” she said and Link was immediately on high alert. Rhiannon started to buck. Link had to fight her out of a rear.
“Rhia? What’s the matter girl?” he asked his steed. Moonlight shone off a pair of beast-eyes in the dark. They resembled pale sapphires and the approached at an alarming rate. Link brought out his gun and held tight to the reins. The animal the reflective eyes belonged to stepped closer and into the moonlight. The beast was quite dark in color, with light highlights on the chest, sides and forehead. It growled and looked up, directly at Link.
“The resident wolf,” Link said with a deep sigh. “I don’t want to hurt you. You’re like an old friend. Go on, get!”
Zelda clutched tighter to his chest as the wolf growled again, deep and low. The horse whinnied and fidgeted. Link was afraid to spur her to a run, for fear that he’d lose control of her or the wolf would give chase. The wolf continued to snarl. He bunched up his shoulders and haunches. Immediately, fearing that he was going to leap for Rhiannon’s throat or for Zelda, Link clumsily fired his gun at the beast. The shots landed around his paws, impacting with the dust.
The wolf’s growl became lower. “Your weapon is quite ineffective against me, coyote.”
“Did you just…talk?” Link questioned. Instead of answering, the wolf lunged for him. Zelda screamed. He felt jaws clamp themselves around his throat and his body shift off the saddle. His world went white.
The young man, eyes tightly closed, realized that he was lying on the ground upon his back. Heat and hair lifted off of him. He rubbed his throat. He could breathe and the skin wasn’t broken. He opened his eyes and sat up. Everything around him was misty. He grabbed his hat off the ground, donned it and stood up. He spied a figure sitting on what appeared to be rocks several feet away. It was a man cleaning and sharpening a sword.
The stranger looked up and smiled. “I’m sorry that I had to be so rough on you,” he said, “I didn’t think there was any other way to get your attention.” He slid the sword he was working on into a scabbard on his back and stood up. Link stared at him. His clothes looked archaic, like he’d stepped out of some kind of fair or out of an illustrated history book. The man seemed to note this as he looked down at himself and back to Link. “Yeah, I know,” he sighed. “The clothes weren’t exactly fashionable in my own time, either. Love your hat.”
“Where are we?” Link asked, looking around at the endless white the two were standing in. “And where’s the wolf?”
The stranger pointed to himself and smiled.
“I… I don’t understand,” Link replied.
“Wolf” the man said simply, pointing, once again, to himself.
“In a sense, yes, but this is also very real. It is difficult to explain. I am… well… I’m um… I am your predecessor, your ancestor… another Chosen Hero. Your understanding will grow in time. Mine did. Think for a moment. You’ve read a story about a hero who was also a wolf. He lived in a time when a dark shadow was blanketing the land and he restored the land to light.”
Link’s jaw went slack. “You’re telling me that you’re the Hero of Twilight?”
“Is that the title they gave me?” the erstwhile hero asked, his own jaw a little slack. “I suppose they must have bestowed that on me after I died… I sure don’t remember it. Anyway, I am here to teach you. You’ll meet others, as well… I can only give you as much knowledge as you are ready for.”
“Well… Hero of Twilight or Hero of Light,” Link added, “The title varies by story. You are the reason why Hyrule has a peace treaty and open trade with the Twilight Realm, or so the legends say.”
The Hero of Twilight suddenly gazed off thoughtful, distant. “Open trade and peace…” then he shook his head. “I didn’t get to see that… I died too soon.”
“I did not mean to upset you.”
“Oh, no, it’s okay, really.”
“Are you the first Hero?”
“I asked,” Link reiterated, “Are you the first Hero? I mean, the first guy to save Hyrule?”
“No, I am not,” the Hero of Twilight answered, “I suppose I am the first to come to you because you and I have the most in common with one another. Before I began my quest, I was a rancher, too.” He smiled broadly. “I also lived in a doubtful age… faith in the Goddesses and in magic was beginning to dwindle in my time. It was twilight in more than one way. The guardian spirits praised me for being a person of faith – and I didn’t think I had a lot. Your age is an even greater age of doubt. There’s almost no faith left in Hyrule. I’m surprised that I can feel mystic energy flowing from you. I was not as lucky in my time. Take up your weapon.”
Link drew his gun.
“No, no no!” the Hero of Twilight scolded. “Not that! I do not know that weapon. I cannot teach you anything with that! Your sword! Draw your sword!”
Link holstered the gun and cautiously drew his father’s sword off his back. “I’ve not used a sword before… it’s an archaic weapon. I’ve not been properly trained in firearms, either, for that matter.”
“The sword is a noble weapon,” the Hero of Twilight replied, drawing his own blade, “and it takes skill to use. You will have to learn your skills quickly. I’ll give you a crash-course. Watch me closely, then repeat it yourself. Do not worry. In this realm, you cannot harm me. Let us begin.”
The Hero of Twilight first showed Link a basic swipe, then a thrust and stab. He then leapt into the air, swiping his blade downward, bringing its tip down just shy of Link’s shoulder. Link grit his teeth and tried not to yelp. He saw a strand of his hair float upon the air. The erstwhile Hero sheathed his blade and waited for Link to try the demonstrated moves. He did so clumsily.
“What ails you?” the Hero asked. “Don’t falter. Your enemies certainly won’t. Get your grit up. You were born and bred to fight demons.”
“I haven’t done anything like this before!” Link protested.
“Are you going to quit, then, coyote? Are you going to let down all who depend upon you? If you wish to quit, say so now. I have no time for faithless cowards.”
Link growled. No one called him a coward, let alone some dead man in a dream. He redoubled his efforts. He fought hard with the Hero of Twilight and eventually sent him sprawling to the ground.
“Very good! Very good!” he laughed as he picked himself up. You are ready for one more skill I have to teach you. Hold your sword out and concentrate. Send your ‘will’ into it.”
Link, unsure of what he meant, tried it. He felt suddenly light and fast as his sword circled the air, aflame with a mysterious green light. He felt his strength and his “will” going through the hilt and through the length of the blade, thrumbing through the air like music. When he was done, he held his father’s sword up, staring at it.
“That was amazing!” he exclaimed. “How in the world did I do that?”
“Like I said,” the Hero of Twilight answered, “you have the mystic energy. I did not. I had to learn a much harder skill that is similar to that move during my time in life. I had to be at the peak of health to pull it off – not an ache, not a pain, not a scratch! You are fortunate not to have that handicap. In this doubtful age, and with the doubts in your heart, I’m surprised that you have the ability to pull it off. You are in touch with magic, though you are not yet fully aware of it.”
“Magic…” Link said slowly.
“I cannot say that I’m not a bit disappointed in your lack of faith, son, but I really do not blame you, in your era. You are rather calm about this only because you believe you are dreaming. Once you awaken, you will remember the skills I have taught you. Whether you believe that I am real, however, is entirely up to you. As you are now, there is only so much that I can teach you – that any of us can teach you.”
“Any of us?”
“The Heroes,” the Hero of Twilight said bluntly. “We will appear in the beginning as animals – the beasts that reflect who we were. I am the wolf. There are many of us. You shall see the ones that you need to see, meeting only the ones you need to meet. There is a golden wolf’s whelp. There is the rabbit, the bear, the black cat, the cardinal and the seagull. Heed our lessons well, coyote. Farewell.”
“Wait! Will I ever see you again?”
The Hero of Twilight pointed to the center of his chest, his heart, then to Link’s. “I am closer than you think.”
“Why do you keep calling me ‘coyote?”
The Hero of Twilight faded into the white of the surrounding landscape. Link blinked, aware that he was lying upon the hard earth. He heard Zelda’s voice.
“Oh, Goddesses! Link, are you okay?”
“Y-yeah,” he said, trying to sit up. Zelda knelt beside him. She held Rhiannon’s long reins in her left hand and had her right on his shoulder. She brushed his neck, as if making sure he had not been bitten.
“The wolf ran off,” she said. “It just knocked you off the saddle. It looked like it was trying for your throat, but it just ran off. I wonder if it was an ill-treated pet. It had a shackle on its leg.” What Zelda failed to admit was that the beast she had seen looked painfully familiar, like something out of a dream she’d had, or one of her visions.
“I’m alright,” Link said, standing up, brushing himself off. “Let him be.”
He helped Zelda back onto the saddle and mounted up. He did not know yet if he should tell Zelda of the vision he’d had. For the time being, he kept it to himself and continued to wonder about it. “The golden wolf’s whelp. The rabbit, the bear, the black cat, the cardinal and the seagull,” he whispered to himself. He set his gaze to the east, across the wild desert that lay between them and Old Kakariko.
Link and Zelda traveled the desert for three days without seeing a soul. They moved by night, riding into the morning and would rest at whatever shady spot they could find during the heat of the day. Rhiannon was able to eat the scanty desert bushes and tough, bristly grasses that grew in the sand and hardpan – being a Hylian Mustang, she possessed a toughness that the more “refined” horse breeds that Zelda was familiar with did not. Link had brought along a bag of oats for her, but after three days of giving her small rations, it was gone. Link had great concern for her because mere survival was not the same as health and without a healthy steed; they’d be lost out here. Water was an even greater concern. Link was familiar with the desert, having explored and camped in the lands just outside his home since childhood. He told Zelda about certain cacti that could provide water if processed properly, though their tissues were bitter and harvesting them for moisture was best avoided if possible. He said that a man could potentially survive a week in the wasteland if he limited his movement and drank his own urine – also to be avoided if possible. The two were light on their canteens and to their great relief, they’d found a cave with a small spring inside it on their second day of travel. Link tasted the water first to make sure that it was safe to drink. Once he found it fresh and clean, he lead Rhiannon to drink and filled their canteens and every empty container they had.
They’d found the nights dangerous. Strange, spider-like creatures would jump at them out of the shadows. Odd, bladed things that looked like plants would spring up out of the sands, spinning into Rhiannon’s legs. Desert keese, usually peaceful animals, were suddenly on the attack whenever they tried to ride. Link managed to shoot a few of these bizarre creatures, but he found it more effective to dispatch them and to chase them off with his sword. He’d spring out of the saddle and use the moves he’d learned in his dream. To his great astonishment, he’d once even spun his sword and summoned the green flame into it. Upon confessing that he’d never seen wildlife acting so strangely, nor had he seen some of these kinds of animals before, Zelda informed them that they were not “natural animals” but monsters – beings that sprang up in the land due to evil influences. She said that they were always around, hiding in times of true peace and proliferating when things had gone wrong.
It was not long after dawn when they’d come upon a little adobe house with a tile roof. A woman with brown hair was outside it, bent over a few scrawny tomato plants with a watering can. The scene looked out of place in the middle of nowhere. “Link, stop,” Zelda commanded.
Link halted Rhiannon and the woman looked up from her watering. She blinked her green eyes and gasped. “Zelda?”
“Kara!” Zelda cried, jumping off the saddle. She ran to the woman and hugged her.
“Zelda, I’ve missed you,” Kara said. She looked up to Link. “Hitch your horse and come inside quickly!”
Link led his mare to the back of the house and hitched her. He wandered inside where the two women were chatting busily. “Oh!” Kara said, “It’s very dangerous for you! You shouldn’t be seen! The whole of the Royal Guard is hunting for you! They say you’ve been kidnapped, but…”
She turned to Link and smiled a quirky smile. “This must be the infamous Link, yeah?”
“Yes, yes he is,” Zelda answered for him. She ushered him to sit down in a comfortable chair. “You fought hard last night. Ease your back.”
“That wound on your arm looks pretty nasty,” Kara said, “Let me get something to wash it up.”
“It’s just a little keese bite,” he answered.
Kara wet a cloth and handed it to Link. She ushered Zelda to sit on her couch while she sat on a chair across from her. “It’s just awful, Zelda,” she said, “and I know Cecelia’s behind it. I should have known the day she took over for mother… before then, even. She always had a lust for power in her eyes.”
“Excuse me…” Link butted in, “but who are you?”
“This is Kara,” Zelda said, “She’s my sister.”
“How many have you got?” he asked tiredly, “I didn’t like meeting the last one.”
“Forgive me,” Zelda said, “We haven’t all been properly introduced. Link, this is Princess Kara, second in formal succession behind Crown Princess Cecelia. Kara, dear, this is Link Ordona…”
“Jr. Link Ordona Jr.” Link corrected.
“He’s been kind enough to rescue me from many dangers, as befitting the Hero.”
“… I’m still not used to all this,” Link complained. “All this legendary stuff you seem to believe in. I didn’t ask for this and I sure don’t feel like a hero.”
“He’s tired,” Zelda apologized. “He gets a bit cranky when he’s tired.”
“But he’s very sweet and very brave.”
“He’s also very wanted.” Kara said. “I’ll turn on the morning news; they’re probably still talking about the two of you. Ganondorf’s got a six million rupee bounty on you, kid.”
“What?” Link choked.
Kara turned on an old television that was sitting at the end of the room. She twisted the rabbit ears on it and the picture cracked to life. President Ganondorf was standing before a podium in one of the royal gardens – the one that was at the palace entrance and open to the public. The headline below him read “King Ganondorf,” however. He spoke into a sea of microphones.
“We wish only for the safe return of the princess,” he stated. “We fear she may already have been murdered. The young man with whom she was last seen is to be considered armed and dangerous. Oh, it deeply saddens me to see such troubles in our fair kingdom!”
“He’s cryin’ crocodile tears,” Kara hissed.
“Link Ordona Jr. was last seen vacating Ordona Ranch with Princess Zelda after murdering his uncle, Russell Ordona. We have leveled a substantial reward for information leading to his capture. We will pay out six million rupees to anyone who brings him in alive or presents us with identifiable remains. It is regrettable that we must call for dead or alive bounty for one so young, but this troubled youth has committed crimes that amount to high treason.”
Link’s eyes narrowed in anger. “Uncle Russ… how DARE he accuse me of killing him! That Cecelia bitch did it! Wait…. If they know about Russ, they must have gone to the ranch!” Link sat up straight, his face a mask of worry.
Footage was shown of Ordona Ranch. Familiar people spoke in front of the camera. Malon shook her head and proclaimed that “Link was such a kind, gentle boy,” and that she never saw the tragedy coming. Fado spoke to the reporters of how “troubled” Link had allegedly been, all lies. The burly man then looked straight at the camera and said “Link, if you’re out there and can see this…” then he made a sign with his hands.
Link sat back and sighed, a surprised, relieved expression crossing his face. “Fado… thank you, buddy… thank you.”
“What was that?” Zelda asked.
“All clear.” Link said. “That sign he made with his hands… we used to use hand signs to communicate across the fields and pens. The one he made means ‘all clear’ or ‘everything’s okay.’ I can see what’s happening. Fado probably called a meeting just after we left and they all agreed to lie to any investigators. They’re protecting themselves.”
“But they’re ruining your name to do it,” Kara said, “unless it’s true?”
“Of course it’s not true!” Link spat back. “And it’s okay. They know I can take care of myself. They trust me to get through this. They know I’d rather them protect themselves than protect me.”
He and Zelda both told Kara of the events that had transpired at the ranch three days ago. Kara hung her head. “Yes, just like Cecelia,” she sighed, “She knows that she is not the true Princess ordained of Nayru. She is doing everything to grasp power. She is just using Ganondorf, you know.”
“Perhaps he is using her,” Zelda replied.
“Again with the politics,” Link said. “I have a question; it’s been bugging me ever since three days ago. Cecelia said she’d let Zelda go if I came with her. I’m just a regular person. I’m just the person who was harboring Zelda. Why was she so interested in me all of a sudden, to the point of trying to kill me?”
“As I’ve said, Link,” Zelda said, “you are the Hero. Cecelia knows that if she takes you out of the picture, there will be no one to protect me and no one to stop her… or Ganondorf. You’re sort of like a key to everything. She must have known you are the Chosen Hero. It was probably your name that gave it away.”
Kara looked down and shook just a little. “Captain Krin confided in me that, as of three years ago, Cecelia put a ‘watch’ on families with anyone named ‘Link’ or ‘Rinku’ or ‘Linette’ in the registries. I’m sorry, kid; she’s been waiting for you.”
“This is just unbelievable,” Link moaned.
“Another thing, Zelda?” Kara said, turning the television off, “I… I really don’t want you to hear it from a newscast. They’re sure to speak of it.”
“What, Kara?” Zelda asked.
Kara’s eyes welled with tears. “Hawky came to me a few days ago. It probably happened right after you left the palace…”
“Hawky?” Link asked.
“My messenger hawk. My beloved Krin and I use him to send mail back and forth to each other. He is more reliable than the postal service and much more difficult to trace. There are reasons I left the castle for this cottage at the end of the world. Anyway, Hawky bore a letter in his satchel and… it concerns Anya.”
“Anya!” Zelda gasped, “Is she alright?”
“She is not,” Kara said, looking down again, her hands on Zelda’s shoulders. “She ‘fell’ down the South Hall stairs. Her neck was broken. According to Krin, one of the handmaidens saw her arguing with Ganondorf and claims to have seen him push her. He’ll never be investigated for it. He has too much power now. She’s gone, Zelda, Anya is gone.”
Zelda let out a wild sob. Kara held her. Link moved from his chair, wanting to help somehow. Zelda parted from Kara and ran to him. She did not know what strange instinct led her to that action. He held her and rubbed her back. He felt good, familiar and very strong. Something in her memory told her that this was right, that she and him had comforted each other many times like this – as friends, even as lovers – in lifetimes that were long since over with – lives that she was only beginning to become aware of, lives that he knew nothing about.
Kara looked sharply at Link. “Old Kakariko is just past the next set of hills to the southeast. Our former Impa is there. She can train you to defend yourself and to protect Zelda. She might also have some powerful insight and wisdom for you. It seems that the supernatural has been unleashed and the legend has begun anew. In any case, if you want to help my little sister, you’re going to have to get strong.”
Link sat down heavily, with Zelda in his lap, still clinging to him. “Don’t we even get time to mourn?” he asked. “You just laid this sad bit of information on Zelda here, I’ve just lost my uncle – the man who raised me from a baby, mind you, and I’ve been accused of murdering him. Can’t we take a little time for the wounds to scab over a little?
“No, you can’t,” Kara answered authoritatively. “In war, there is no time for mourning. The Age of the Hero of Time is long since over with. You will have to race time and by the looks of things, you’re already behind.”
“You’re awfully calm about this.”
“I have to be. I’m just trying to be strong. You should be, too. A Hero’s fate is always a sad one.”
“I didn’t ask to be the Hero.”
“If you’d asked for it, you probably wouldn’t be him.”
Link had been eager to leave the “family reunion.” Kara ushered them out of her door in haste, telling them to stay low and to be careful. Kakariko was nearby, so daytime riding was acceptable. Rhiannon clopped at a walk over the stony hills and rises, past large cacti that people called “tall guardians.” Her passengers slid off the saddle and decided to walk for a while. Link let Zelda hold Rhiannon’s reins and lead her, as it made the princess happy to work with a horse again. The animal needed a rest and Link wanted to stretch his legs. They walked up a rise of what looked to be an old game trail.
“Kara will be alright where she is,” Zelda told Link. “I had no idea exactly where she was living… now I know.”
“Pretty humble dwelling for a princess.”
“It makes sense for someone who is trying to hide in plain sight. Look, Link! Over there in that valley! I see rooftops.”
“Corrugated metal and wood shingles?”
“New Kakariko is a thriving city. Old Kakariko was abandoned decades ago. It’s a bit like the Old Kasuto ghost town now. The economy dried up. I think the wells did, too.”
“Does anybody still live here?”
Link stiffened. He suddenly had the tip of a sword at his throat. He heard Rhiannon whinny. “Who dares to enter Old Kakariko uninvited? Traveler or invader? Friend or foe? Who is it that dares to travel with my princess?”
Before he could answer or draw his gun to defend himself from whomever this psychopath was, he heard Zelda cry out.
“Impa! Impa, withdraw your weapon. He’s a friend.”
The woman sheathed the double-edged sword. Link found himself looking face-to face with her. Her crimson colored eyes were unnerving. He hadn’t seen, nor heard her approach.
Zelda gave the woman a warm hug. “Oh, Impa, I’m so glad we found you!” she said. “We have need of your help. Link, this is
, my Impa. Impa Adelaide, this is… this is Link. He’s the new Hero.” Adelaide
said with a scoff. “This kid? He’s got the correct name, but he looks like you’ve dragged him from some dirt farm.” Without warning, quicker than Link could see or avoid, the red-eyed woman was touching him, tapping his shoulders, squeezing his biceps. “He’s soft,” she said. “He’ll probably be killed on his first great task.” Adelaide
“Hey! Stop that!” Link protested. “How are you doing that? I can’t even see you move!”
knows Sheikah shadow magic,” Zelda explained. Adelaide
“We will explain.”
“Doesn’t even know the old magics, huh?”
The three, and the horse, began walking down into the town.
“Please, Impa, you have to train him,” Zelda pleased. “This man saved me from a gang of armed bandits single-handedly and unarmed. He faced Cecelia when she was working her magic and he lived!”
“With help from you, no doubt.”
“Yes… but he really is very brave. I believe in him. And he’s got the crest, as well.”
“Let me see!”
Before he knew it, Link found the leather riding gloves snatched from his hands.
held his left hand firmly and stroked the back of it with her left thumb. “Well, I’ll be,” she gasped. “and it’s genuine, too. I can feel it… feel its power.” Forcefully, she grabbed Link’s jaw, titled his chin up and looked straight into his eyes. “You really do have the soul, don’t you, kid? Tell you what, boy. You two rest up today. At the crack of dawn, I’m gettin’ you out of bed. You will learn things about weapons you never wanted to know. You’ll suffer wounds. Your body will ache in places you never knew you had…” Adelaide
Link released himself from the woman’s grasp. “I doubt that. You see, I’m a rancher. I’m used to working my body hard every day.”
gave him a serious look and shook her head. “Not like this. What I’m going to put you through is nothing less than Hell itself, to prepare you for the Hell you’re going to face. If you are the true Hero, you will have to win the three Pendants of Virtue and after that, the Blade of Evil’s Bane. I’m sure you’ve read the ‘fairy tales.’ If the princess believes in you, I will not have you disappointing her. Our land is far too gone for us to bear another Lost One.” Adelaide
As they walked, Link shrugged.
“I’ll put you up in the Elde Inn,”
said. “Enjoy your sleep tonight, boy. It will be the last you’re gonna get for a while.” Adelaide
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